Sunday, 28 February 2010

Aphrodites, Starbucks, National Holidays

Another week ends with the sound of thunder above, lightning all around and the rain pouring. A 4 day week as there was a national holiday on Friday. Pay day also this week which was nice but the downside March is a 5 week month so its gonna be a long un.
I was asked recently that my blog about my life in Jakarta only focuses on the challenges and downbeat part of life rather than all the good things. I kinda disagree as this blog is my perception of my time here. I may moan and groan and go on some and fell down hearted some weeks about stuff I have to do but at the end of the day I have to say that I do enjoy my life here. I find living in a city of 20 million people great fun and I think my job is a fantastic one, one which brings many experiences and joys everyday. Teaching for me is something I never thought I would enjoy but I do. Being the Director of Studies is more than teaching, its managing, developing, organising and caring for those I am charged to look after, be it students or teachers.
Living in Jakarta is also an amazing experience and I have had and continue to have many fun times here and I learn and see something new everyday.

However with the good comes the bad. Work is an obligation and the vehicle of my life here. I could not do anything with out that and work is not always a bed of roses, whose job is? Jakata is also a tough city, not a pedestrian paradise but a motor city. Its hot. Its smells and it has some of the worst air quality in the world. And for those that have not experienced those things I try to explain them away.
Right enough of that. Frankly, its my blog and thoughts and if you dont really like it, then please dont read it. Comments are more than welcome, good, bad or ugly I dont mind. Never forget I came here 4 years ago and I have not left.

Work has been full on all week with the aim to speak to all the teachers on a 1 to 1 basis to have a review and see what is going on. I felt it was very productive and I got a lot from it and so that was good for me. The classes also were good. I finally caught up with my private student and a few hours in starbucks was useful to find out what has been happening and also to relax a little and take it easy. Then back to the real world and back to work.
Friday was a holiday so school was closed and I did venture in on Saturday mainly as i had a stack of papers to sift and also to to be ready for next week as I like to plan ahead. It was though, hetic as lots of interviews and charts and forms to be made so I really never got that far ahead and still have lots to do for next week.
I am genuinely busy and I like that. It does give me a boost and a great sense of achievement.
King Rat? maybe lol or Reginald Perrin, maybe a mixture of both.

So work was full on. Lucky for me then that I have had a week of stomach upset, rushing to the toilet and starvation to help get passed it. Coffee, Beer and Indonesian food have not helped! 6 days later its pretty much the same but I know I am getting better.

Friday was a great day. Woke late, Yovita came round and we went to Puri Mall for lunch and coffee. Yovita  had some study to do and so we sat in Starbucks and did that. Well. she did I just read for an hour. The thing about Starbucks is that in Puri the kids sit about there for hours playing cards and not doing much, it is always so busy. After a while I went and got my haircut by Carrefour and that felt so much better. The last time was in Bali.

After work on Saturday I got home pretty much went to sleep for a few hours. I was tired. I have been for a while, maybe cos of my stomach maybe cos I don't sleep much at night and suffer from Insomnia. There is nothing better than waking at 3am everyday and staying awake until 6 or 7 and then going back to sleep. It is absolutely horrible. It plays havoc with my moods.
Anyway around 5 I left with Yovita to go out for the evening to meet some Friends in Aphrodites Sports bar. Its a nice place. Its the place I left on New Years eve as it was rubbish but in the middle of a normal week and with some friends it is a good place. Buy 1 get 1 free on large Pitchers of beer, good food and good company. A little drunk and around 10pm we left and then had to find an ATM as I had no cash, Thats always a fun thing in Jakarta. Once we found one, I dropped Yovita home and then took the toll so I could change the 100k notes and then pay the taxi driver.
On Sunday I went to see Yovita as she left some stuff at mine which she needed. The city was quieter than normal due to the long weekend and so riding the bike through it was nice, with the exception of the driving rain in one section and the intense heat throughout. The thunder was intenese.
Got the biked cleaned made Yovita smile and came back home after a few hours being chased all the way by the rain.

Not sure what this week will bring. I am sure lots of work and things to do. I must get the bike serviced and also run a workshop and do some more teacher things at work. The list never ends. Focus now though is saving for England. Donations welcome. I have 10 months pretty before I will be there for a holiday, unless I get fired then I will be there for a lot longer. But thats December, And I wont get fired.....

Ho hO Ho

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Hotels, Conferences, Swimming

At some point, I really should say something positive about the work I do and the amount of energy that I put into it. Maybe I am not doing anything and I am just riding my luck and seeing where it goes or perhaps I am trying but as I like to say, I am pushing water up hill with a rake, something that is not very easy or useful.
I have spent the week totally focused on EF yet again and any one that says I dont care needs a punch in the head.
Another stressed out week which has been up and down. A teacher left and that went exceptionally bad and it was all my fault apparently yet I dont control anything. So as well as teaching and planning and preparing for a 2 day conference with 1 days notice and helping, discussing, supporting, annoying and getting stressed seemed to do no good but there we go. 
Fed up and it was only Tuesday.
The conference for EF SWARA was being held in Hotel Boroburdur, a 4 star luxury place full of meeting rooms, big beds and great food. 
The hotel has more security than the airport and the service was marginally better. For more information follow the link.
However I enjoyed my stay there, especially as it is free and it is a new place to have visited and stayed in. The conference was a good 2 full days and I had to present to the group on teaching certain classes and was involved in a lot of discussions and debate. I enjoy that as it allows free speaking and generates good ideas. 
The food and drink throughout was also really good.
We have all come away from the conference with a head full of things to do and so next week I will make a start and am resolved to get it right.

The evening meal was in Sate Senayan in Jacksa and it was ok, not the best. They had beer. I liked that. 

After the conference I met Yovita and we sat down to eat in Pizza hut (how I needed some western food) and then starbucks to keep Yovita smiling. That was a good way to finish the day.

Back to work on Friday and I never stopped, I have seminars, teaching and assessments all day and then back to school Saturday to carry on. I like working Saturday mornings, always a chance to catch up and reflect. 
Leaving I noticed the clouds gathering and the wind kicking up, so I have to ride a lot faster through the streets to get home before the rain and the rain did come for 4 hours fell. That was lucky. 
However with the rain, no taxis so Yovita and I stayed home ate more pizza and got slightly more fatter.

Sunday was the opposite of Saturday. It was very very hot. Weekends always seem hotter. I decided to go swimming and noticed security guards and management looking up at somewhere in tower K which is directly over the pool. I stayed down the opposite end from them and as I watched someone was throwing broken glass into the pool and over the people watching. I hope someone took that person away and made them suffer.
The pool was closed and completely cleaned and I must say that was a good thing to see being done.

Mondays coming. New Week new spirit ( I do sound Indonesian, I like these phrases....)

Monday, 15 February 2010

Maps, Flags and wow thats all over the world........

I have been going on about my blog and where it is read and so I have gathered some things to show you. The first 3 maps are like this as Stat Counter keeps adding a new map after so long or so many hits. So it you look at them all together you can see that I am being read in lots of countries. Secondly the chart of countries is the most up to day list of countries in which people have clicked on my blog. Sadly Scotland and Wales come under the United Kingdom and those I send this too do not appear as visitors which is a shame. Iceland is great though as is Korea. But thank you all and keep clicking, it keeps me smiling.

To get a bigger view of the maps, just double click one....

and now the list of countries

Well it keeps me amused....

Google Buzz, Headaches and more rain

The week started well to be honest, then like the rain kinda fell down at speed. IT was a funny old week really.
3 teachers short, 1 trapped in Lombok, 2 on another island and it stayed like that until Friday really when they all came back.
The bi weekly meeting did go well and there was a lot positive comment and ideas and it was good to have. I had to cancel it by a day but that never mattered.
My private business client never showed but I do understand how busy he is so thats ok.
The headaches came and went, some real, some people, some mental but over all they were enough to try me and annoy but nothing more. I have landed yet another private student (they ask for me personally, apparently they like me teaching them, phew..) so that now means working late until 9pm every night and teaching on a Saturday as well as my admin work that I do as well.
So no beer.
Like a fool I forgot that it my 3rd year celebration with Yovita so after some backtracking I sorted that out. I will do something nice for her soon and so that will help.
I really dont like talking about work on here as I dont know who reads this, suffice to say that it has been difficult, the new teachers are great and there does seem to be a change in the air. I have one leaving this week and another will leave in March, from there who knows.
The other thing is that there is quite a lot of unwelcome pressure from above about quality and standards and that has been more told than supported and whilst thats ok, sometimes there is only so much that will happen so quickly.

There has been more rain in the week and when it has not been raining it has been dammed hot, up in the high 90's which is all very nice until you are stuck in the traffic and melting. Same with the rain, I dont mind deep floods until stuck in traffic.
On Saturday the roads were covered in all sorts and so therefore so was I. The rain was really heavy and not very kind so I just got covered in shit and showered when I got home.

The AC is good though and keeps the place cool through the day even though it is not even on. Its on all night then off all day. Though I do wonder how much it is going to cost and the sad thing is I cant hear the thunder any more.

Saturday was spent home along and so once I had finished work, sleep was nice and some tv and reading. It was a quiet way to spend Saturday. Sunday I went to see Yovita, well it was valentines day and so spent the day with her and that too was relaxing. I really must get a sofa though as the chairs here are beginning to be unfriendly.
So a quiet weekend all in all. I say quiet the Chinese new year fireworks passed by very loudly on both Saturday and Sunday and the valentines day was good too.
There is talk of Valentines day being banned in Indonesia as it represents bad things in islam, although I cant quite see why.
You really should read the jakarta globe ( and see what wacky things these crazy guys are dreaming up out here now. The latest is the fear that they will start to censor twitter, facebook etc like China and other countries. We will see.

So its the year of the tiger and thats got to be good. I have no idea why but it has to be. Surely every new year is better than the last. I was born in the year of the rat.
I joined Google Buzz, thats new and supposed to over take FB and Twitter. Basically you can add all your social networks and friends also under gmail which is really a good idea, although I dont know anyone who has a gmail id except those I work with and about 2 others. But I will work at it. I am liking gmail more and more as it allows me to do so much from one place, better than Yahoo. So I set myself up a new account and it pull in all my email from all over the place. lreg72 is my id if you care to email me.

Overall a quite work focused week, full of the thrills and spills of work and riding through the city. This week could be more fun.....

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Air Con, Floods, ATM'S and rubbish Banks

So much for a quiet week. This week has been depressingly awful throughout with the occasional break for good things and news. I must say it has been a long week and work was one of those things that would not go away but was surprisingly better in some respects than I thought. The new teachers started teaching and that was good, a result in some ways and it felt good to have them teaching and feeling upbeat about life here as some of the others well lets say, dont do that often.

I finally had the AC installed in the apartment on Tuesday and due to some technical issue I have pipes running around the outside of the unit but it is cold and apart from the odd squeak which if you hit the AC unit stops it is a nice thing to have on and running. There is now no noise from outside as the windows are closed so no dust and no mosquitoes. I still have ants but I always will.
So the AC men came as did the land lady and her boyfriend both of whom never spoke, Luckily Yovita spoke to them and that was ok. I finally paid the rent for the apartment today so I am now officially broke again. But I do have somewhere to live until March 2011. And its mine with my stuff in it. And for now thats enough.

The rainy season is still here and despite the temperatures being at least 90 degrees some days the rain falls thick and fast. Tuesday was one of those days. Lucky for me I left after 8.30 from work when the volume of traffic had fallen. The roads were flooded all the way home. Except at the apartments where the rain had not reached there yet. Dressed in Poncho, waterproof trousers and trainers I set off into the dark to get home. Half way home there are a couple of university Campuses which are always busy and due to there being no drains always flooded. This time I took my bike through floods which were over the front wheel and with high revs in 2nd and a damm good balance as cars going by were making waves I got through them with ease. My feet were soaked and the bike moaned and groaned and the brakes took a while to work again but it did what was asked. If that had been earlier then there would be a chance I would not have made it. There are a few ways to get home but no matter which way you choose in the rain all the roads are flooded. The water had gone by 10am the next morning like nothing had happened.
It has rained on and off like this all week. Today has been so hot that the swimming pool was warm and empty as the locals dont like swimming in direct sun as they get darker skin almost immediately. So swimming in an outdoor pool alone in the bright sunshine at 2pm is a wonderful thing.

I have a dislike with the people that manage my money and credit card here as they are not incompetent but they are not very good. The call centre is bad, the service is awful. They reduced my credit card limit without notice and then charge my for the being over, without any notice.
Then on Thursday after work I wanted to get some things to eat and pay my bills so I went to an ATM in the apartment, put my card in. Nothing. I could not access anything. I tried another one. Exactly the same.
I sent an sms to check my balance. I had a reply saying my account was closed. In Indonesian.  Fantastic.
I have to then buy some credit for my phone and call them. Thats easy enough, except I need a English speaking operator. I got one almost immediately who after taking all my details told me that I was talking to the Credit Card section and they had to transfer me. Ironic as the telephone number on the back on my ATM card is the same as the one on the back of the Credit Card.
10 minutes I had to wait until I was disconnected.
I called again. This time after some threats the man at the other end of the line started to help me. After 20 questions about who I was and being unable to provide any of the security information he needed, I got my account balance and then after that some more information about why and how and what can happen next.
' to help you feel you account is more secure we have blocked your ATM card from accessing your account and therefore reduced any security risks or attacks that can be made on you account ' was his reply. How considerate. I told him that I had to pay my landlady tonight otherwise I would be homeless. Strangely that did not seem to matter much to him. Being pissed off whilst made me feel better, actually did not get any reaction.
In Bali there was a skimming and scanning ring that was ripping off ATM's for BCA and so because I have been to Bali lately they blocked it for my security. However they failed to notify me first and therefore really really upsetting me.
Friday I had a meeting in the city with the other Directors of Studies. I was told by the BCA customer service I could get a new card in the morning by going to any branch and asking for one.
Now that is another mission impossible as no one in banks speaks English, They do in Permata as I taught them!
So I went to Yovitas building where they have a BCA and she helped me fill in the forms and the paperwork and find out why. That was very helpful. By 9am I had a new card. However this one does not have my name on it so it is really not very secure at all And I had to change the password which means I might forget it and then lose the card which I hope wont happen.
Getting to the city for 8.30 am is another mission. There is a 3 person rule which means you cant enter the heart of the city between 7 and 10 unless there 3 people in the car. We had to stop and pick up a JOKI. A Joki (pronounced Jockey) is someone who you pay to have sit in the car while you get there. They are smelly, well this one was, ungrateful for the 10,000 given to him and its a strange feeling to have a complete stranger in the car with you. But it serves the purpose.

The meeting was fine.

My weekend involved shopping at Ambasador as I am looking for a sofa for the apartment and I have found a nice, cheap affordable one. So that will be got at the end of the month. Then I went drinking in Senayan City with Yovita and carried on into the night, going to Mellys in Thamarin to meet friends and rounded the night off playing pool.
Today was swimming, shopping, eating and sleeping.

Full of optimism for next week. Need to start planning the rest of the year, saving for the UK and a few other things. Lets see what happens.

For those I send this too. Please can you click the link from the email Why? Cos I like to see where this gets opened. 31 countries so far... The more the merrier.

Here comes the thunder and lightning and it will be big....

see you